CSA Day at Bella Figura

Today is Tuesday, which during the summer and early fall harvest season means only one thing here at Bella Figura – it’s CSA day! Bella Figura is proud to subsidize CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) memberships for employees through Grindstone Farm, a local organic farm. Once a week, a big van full of freshly picked organic veggies shows up at our door and we always love digging through the boxes to see what we have that week. This year we’ve been eating a lot of rainbow chard, kale, bokchoy, a variety of lettuces, onions, garlic, lots of beautiful tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini galore.

Here is a quick peek at today’s share – parsley, patty pan squash, three varieties of tomatoes, baby carrots, two varieties of radishes, lemon basil, lots of tomatillos and the first of this season’s apples.

With tomatillos greeting us week after week, we’ve all been sharing ideas on how to best use them up. The verdict is that a great roasted tomatillo salsa can’t be beat. We love this recipe from epicurious – it’s simple, quick and tasty. Does it get much better?

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos
5 fresh serrano chiles (or sub the peppers of your choice; remove the seeds for less heat)
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons coarse salt

Preheat broiler or grill.

Remove husks from tomatillos and rinse under warm water to remove stickiness. Broil chiles, garlic, onion and tomatillos on rack of a broiler pan 1 to 2 inches from heat (or on the grill), turning once, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 7 minutes. Peel garlic and pull off tops of chiles. Purée all ingredients in a blender.

Allow to cool to room temperature and serve with your favorite chips or Mexican fare. Enjoy!

by Cynthia Converse on September 14th, 2010. Category: Green Wedding Ideas | No comments

Letterpress Wedding Invitation Trend – Eco RSVP Requests

One of our favorite recent trends in letterpress wedding invitations has been the increasing number of requests we’ve received to print RSVP information directly on the outer envelope flap. The envelope is letterpress printed with either a website address, email address or another means by which RSVPs are requested, without having to send guests a separate reply card. It’s a fabulous idea that is incredibly eco-chic because it saves so much paper, but it’s also budget-friendly, too! A couple cannot only reduce paper usage, but also save the money they would have spent if providing guests with a reply card and postage. Paired with lovely letterpress wedding invitations, it’s chic, streamlined and equally appropriate for a barefoot wedding on the beach or a black tie affair. We’re in love with these that we’ve recently printed and can’t wait to print more…

RSVP Info on Envelope Flap

RSVP Info on Envelope Flap

RSVP Info on Envelope Flap

by Cynthia Converse on August 5th, 2009. Category: Green Wedding Ideas,Wedding Trends | (2) comments

Bella Figura Loves Community Supported Agriculture

As part of our continued efforts to be truly eco-friendly, Bella Figura subsidizes CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) memberships for all employees.  Many of us happily take advantage of the opportunity to have fresh, local, organic produce delivered once a week by a local organic farm, Grindstone Farm. The veggies and herbs are always incredibly fresh and delicious and have typically been picked within just hours of reaching us. Because the Delevan Center, the old warehouse we call home, is the Downtown Syracuse drop off location, our CSA deliveries literally come right to our door. We love seeing what awaits us as we fill up our bags and head home to cook – half the fun is figuring out what to do with all the cool ingredients we don’t always see in local grocery stores!

Our First CSA Delivery!

Typically, we get an assortment of great lettuces, kale, fresh herbs like cilantro and dill, broccoli so delicious you’ll never want to eat anything other than organic broccoli again, garlic scapes, cool daikon radishes that resemble white carrots, and lots and lots of beautiful red radishes. As the season is progressing, so are the crops, and the veggies we receive every week are changing up, but we’ve continued to get a lot of radishes, which led a few of us to start looking into recipes that use radishes and ideally the radish greens too. After a while, we’ve found ourselves at a bit of a loss as to what to do with them other than slice them up for salads. After some hunting around, one of our letterpress printers, Carrie, who is one of the finest artisans we know to ever run an Original Heidelberg windmill, found and tweaked the following recipe that was so good, we just had to share it in the event any of you are at a loss as to what to do with all of your radishes. If you like food with an Asian flair, you will love this recipe.

Our First CSA Delivery!

Asian Hamburger Skillet

  • 1lb lean hamburger (although many of us are vegetarians so we substituted the Morning Star ground “meat” instead)
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced about 1/4″ thick then cut into 2″ lengths
  • 1 bunch of radishes, cut in matchsticks
  • 1 bunch of radish tops, cut roughly into 1″ pieces
  • 4 carrots, julienned or cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1-1/2 tsp ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (although we’ve also tried General Tso’s sauce and it was delicious!)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lime (optional)
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a large sauté pan, cook hamburger (or meat substitute) over medium high heat, until just beginning to brown, breaking into small bits with spatula. Stir in onion and radishes and cook another 2-3 minutes. Stir in carrots, radish tops, ginger paste and fish sauce and cook 5-10 minutes until onions are softened and hamburger is cooked through. Sprinkle with lime juice (if using) and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately…and don’t forget to let us know how you like it!

by Cynthia Converse on July 11th, 2009. Category: Green Wedding Ideas | No comments

Bella Figura an EPA Green Power Partner

Here at Bella Figura, we are truly dedicated to being as eco-friendly as possible so we are always seeking out great new ideas for improving our eco practices and building great new partnerships. Accordingly, we were thrilled that Bella Figura’s parent company, Boxcar Press, recently teamed up with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an EPA Green Power Partner, a program designed to encourage organizations to seek out renewable energy sources and to reduce carbon emissions. Our operations are 100% wind powered through NativeEnergy, a truly inspiring organization that allows businesses and individuals to purchase carbon offsets and renewable energy credits. NativeEnergy actively works to promote Native American, family farm, and community-based renewable energy projects to help make renewable energy more accessible. It’s a true pleasure for us to be working with the EPA and NativeEnergy to help promote renewable energy and we look forward to seeing an increasing number of businesses getting involved in the future.

Bella Figura - EPA Green Power Partner

by Cynthia Converse on May 29th, 2009. Category: Green Wedding Ideas | No comments

How to Choose Eco Wedding Vendors

Beyond our beautiful letterpress wedding invitations, a lot of our clients love working with Bella Figura because of our extensive eco practices and our geunine dedication to the environment. We recognize that an increasing number of brides and grooms are looking to be more eco-conscious in their wedding planning and wanted to offer some suggestions for seeking out wedding vendors that are truly eco-friendly. If you’re seeking to limit the impact of your event on the Earth, opting to work with wedding vendors who are fully committed to being as environmentally friendly as possible is an important part of doing so. While “green” tends to be a common trend these days, for us and other like-minded wedding professionals, being as green as possible is our way of life. Not sure where to start or how to identify true eco wedding vendors? Here are some things to consider and to ask potential vendors when speaking with them:

Smock + Boxcar Press CSA pick-up

- Inquire about third party certifications and/or seals of approval from environmental organizations such as Green America, Green Hotels Association, Greener Photography and others

- Check to see that the vendor has a formal waste reduction/recycling policy in action as well as policies in practice to help reduce energy consumption

- Ask vendors about their own practices in dealing with suppliers – do they have a formal purchasing policy in place whereby they give preference to other eco vendors/suppliers?

- If a vendor is providing you with a product, inquire about the materials and packaging used in production. Do they use renewable energy in production? Do they use non-toxic or less toxic materials? Where possible, packaging itself should be minimal and of a high recycled content.

- Products that are made from rapidly renewable resources are also preferable in addition to seeking out high recycled content where possible. If wood is involved in production, is it harvested from certified, sustainably managed forests? Is the product itself recyclable?

Smock + Boxcar Press CSA pick-up

- Does the vendor support broader green living practices such as by subsidizing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) memberships for employees, for instance, or offering bus passes to
employees to encourage public transportation use, or by offering on-site recycling and composting?

- Inquire about donations and support of environmental organizations and causes. Does the vendor offer money, services or products to charitable or community organizations?

- Ask vendors if they participate in donating 1% of sales through 1% for the Planet or in another way dedicate a portion of sales to environmental causes

- Check with your vendor to see if they participate in third-party certified renewable energy or carbon offset programs such as Native Energy

- Find out if a vendor has a mission statement that explicitly expresses their commitment to the environment

Keeping these things in mind will help you to pinpoint companies and vendors that are truly dedicated to limiting the negative impact of their business operations upon the planet. Don’t be afraid to ask vendors about their eco policies as any truly eco-conscious professional will be more than happy to let you know what differentiates them from the pack. To learn more about our own eco practices, you can visit our website.

by Cynthia Converse on April 15th, 2009. Category: Green Wedding Ideas | No comments

Eco-Friendly Wedding Favor Inspiration

As an earth-loving company, we love to see couples incorporating eco-friendly elements, large and small, into their weddings — so we wanted to share some of our favorite ideas for eco-friendly wedding favors. At Bella Figura, we recognize and appreciate that every small effort counts. We love these ideas for expressing appreciation to your loved ones while helping to limit the waste that might be generated by other more traditional wedding favors.

Eco wedding reception favors
{Potted herbs in buckets by Kelly MacPhee via Snippet & Ink; Herbs in terra cotta pots via Intimate Weddings}

We love the idea of using potted herbs in cool containers to serve as both centerpieces and guest wedding favors. Not only is the look completely pretty and the fragrance sure to be delightful, but you’re working to reduce waste all around as there is no packaging to be discarded and no centerpieces left to go to waste.

Eco wedding reception favors

{Lovely handmade soaps from 100 Layer Cake}

We absolutely adore these beautiful handmade soaps recently featured on one of our favorite wedding blogs, 100 Layer Cake. Made with love and tied with strips of pretty scrap fabric, baker’s twine and small tags punched from paper grocery bags, they are not only beautiful but also very eco-chic. We also think these would be great favors at a bridal or baby shower or even perfect to include with bridesmaids gifts.

Eco wedding reception favors

Eco wedding reception favors
{Potted banana bread DIY favors via Style Me Pretty}

Baked directly in small, reusable terra cotta pots and sweetly capped off with a square of wax paper and a bit of raffia, these adorable potted banana bread favors recently featured on Style Me Pretty are nothing short of fun and delicious, a combination we love. Waste and costs are minimal and guests are sure to love their own personal pot of banana bread or whatever other sweet treat you bake for them. We can also see these being perfect as individually potted over-sized cupcakes and topped with a dollop of yummy frosting!

Eco wedding reception favors
{Bright and festive reusable tote bags from Smudge Ink; Personalized shopping bags from the wedding of Mrs. Hydrangea on Weddingbee, photo by Perez Photography}

Perfect as wedding favors, out of town bags or as wedding party gifts, we love the idea of giving your loved ones gorgeous reusable shopping totes either in fun, festive colors or personalized to reflect your wedding aesthetic. Especially perfect for destination weddings or weekend-long events when packed with snacks, maps and ideas of what to see and do, a great tote will be used and appreciated long after your wedding day.

Eco wedding reception favors
{Personalized SIGG water bottles from the wedding of Jordan and Juan Carlo via Sarah Pants}

Most of us in the office carry around a reusable water bottle of some kind so we fell completely in love with the personalized SIGG water bottles one of our recent Bella Figura couples, Jordan and Juan Carlo, offered their guests as wedding favors at their weekend-long eco-friendly Texas wedding celebration. Each guest received an aluminum water bottle and great care was taken to reduce and/or completely eliminate paper waste at each of their weekend events. This idea is perfect for wedding guests or to give to your bridal party and will serve as a great souvenir to remind loved ones of the fun and joy of your wedding.

Eco wedding reception favors
{Photo near Spruce Pond along the Finger Lakes Trail by our own Debbie Urbanski}

Taking the idea of eco wedding favors to another level, Bella Figura and our sister company, Smock,  are both huge fans of American Forests and we love the idea of celebrating your marriage with a donation to help protect the trees and forests that are so vital in protecting the earth. Every $1 plants a tree so you can just imagine the impact your donation can have.

Eco wedding reception favors
{Letterpress wedding favor card by Smock for the Amazon Conservation Association}

Especially near and dear to our hearts, Smock has recently teamed up with the Amazon Conservation Association in offering pro bono design and printing of gorgeous letterpress favor cards. For a $5 donation per guest, you can thank your loved ones with a contribution to help protect the Amazon. Couples will receive one beautiful favor card per two guests, sustainably letterpressed on our bamboo paper, to display on tables at their reception explaining how your donation has helped create a better livelihood for local communities and to help conserve the biological diversity of the Amazon basin. To learn more, visit Smock’s blog.

At Bella Figura we recognize that steps large and small are necessary to protect the environment for future generations so we full-heartedly support couples opting for eco-friendly wedding favors in lieu of more traditional keepsakes that might go to waste. A good rule of thumb is to opt for items that are reusable, practical and fun or edible favors packaged in reusable containers that guests can later repurpose. And, of course, you never go wrong with a donation to an environmental or charitable cause near and dear to your hearts.

by Cynthia Converse on April 10th, 2009. Category: Green Wedding Ideas | (4) comments

Green Weddings Event

We just found out about Green Weddings, an event to be hosted by Housing Works on April 13, 2009 in New York City by way of our friend Vané at Brooklyn Bride. The event will feature an array of advice about planning a fabulous eco-friendly wedding from a wide range of industry experts including Mireya Navarro, author of Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-Friendly Celebration. Because hosting an eco-friendly event means so much more than just eco-friendly letterpress invitations, we’re thrilled to see a group of knowledgable industry leaders coming together to offer advice and insight. Now, if only we could be in NYC to attend…

Dewdrop letterpress wedding invitation - inspired by the Brooklyn Bride - Bella Figura

It’s worth mentioning that Vané is one of our featured Bella Figura Trendsetters and her fresh, modern style was the inspiration behind our popular Dewdrop design, which we love. You can purchase Vané’s favorite Bella Figura designs, or that of any other Bella Figura Trendsetter, as a sample pack with 100% of the purchase price going to Vané’s environmental cause of choice, The Conservation Fund.

by Cynthia Converse on March 20th, 2009. Category: Green Wedding Ideas,Inspiration | 1 comment

Inspired by Frolic….

Photographs we love from Frolic....
We’ve been a big fan of Frolic’s blog for awhile — beautiful and dreamy photography and lots of inspiration for weddings & life & design. So we were blown away when we heard that Chelsea, Frolic’s editor, is starting to donate 5% of their sponsor fees to charity. Way to go!!! Imagine if all small (and large) businesses did the same….how could the world not get better? (Photos above, spotted by Frolic: on the left, a Gabrielle Revere photograph from Bust magazine, inspired by Twin Peaks. On the right, photo by Cherry Blossom Girl). (By the way, check out Frolic’s sweet post about Bella Figura’s new site, and see Frolic’s favorite BF invitation designs here)

by Debbie Urbanski on January 9th, 2009. Category: Green Wedding Ideas,Inspiration | 1 comment